The path was not an easy one. One Southern paper condemned Mosby's concilatory actions, declaring "he needs convincing -- in fact needs to be suppressed or abated. It is allowable to wish, but impossible to hope, that a firebrand of his sort can be quenched in any ordinary way. Some men are like fleas; no half-way measures will suffice for them. It is either torture you or death to them" (Jones, p.297). One night in 1877, an unknown sniper took a pot shot at Mosby as he stepped off a train in Warrenton, Va.
Reaction in the North, on the other hand, turned decidely pro-Mosby. After Mosby wrote a letter that indicated his aversion to sectional politics, the New York Herald responded, indicating their surprise that the former bushwacker was a "writer of peculiar piquancy and power" (Jones, p.298). Other papers followed with detailed stories about the periodic reunions Mosby's men held after the war.
As the 20th century arrived, the bitterness of Reconstruction had dissipated, and both North and South could take delight in Mosby's bygone days. One newspaper declared that Northern Virginians "hold his name as a household word, associated with all the highest qualities of the ideal Confederate soldier and leader." In 1915 the University of Virginia, which expelled Mosby for shooting a fellow student in 1853, bestowed on the Confederate colonel a bronze medal. An embossed address read: "Endowed with the gift of friendship, which won for you the confidence of both Lee and Grant, you have proven yourself a man of war, a man of letters, and a man of affairs worthy of the best traditions of your University and your State, to both of which you have been a loyal son" (Jones, p.307). Upon Mosby's death, one anonymous obituary clipping stated that "he was as much beloved in the North as he was in the South."
Mosby's partisanship for the Confederacy during the Civil War won him fame and honor throughout the South. After the war a similar partisanship manifested itself for the Republicans, and eventually earned him recognition as a symbol for the reunified Union. Throughout his life, Mosby's stubborn ways inspired either wild praise or caustic reproach; there was little middle ground when it came to one's impressions of the man. Americans, however, like their heros to be true to their ideals. The picture of Mosby that emerges in today's cultural landscape -- the wiry, innovative, rebel individualist -- conforms to this expectation. In this capacity his status as an icon both for the Confederacy as well as America as a whole seems assured.